Ballroom Dancing Basics: I Will Follow You

Ladies want to follow you, they really do. The only thing is, in today’s world women have many responsibilities. They run businesses and raise families. They’re used to taking the lead. However, when it comes to dancing, it’s a very different world. When she says, “Honey, let’s go dancing!” she’s likely to get this reply, “Okay, but how about you let me lead for a change?” “You know I’m working on it. Do you have any idea how hard it is for a lady to learn how to follow?”

Ballroom dancing requires teamwork.

Many times a woman will say, “I can follow you as long as you have a strong lead.”  Wait a minute. You want the leader to pull you around?

She really wants to follow you.
What? Nah, that’s not gonna work for me.

He’s right, that’s not gonna work. After all, this is a partnership with everyone doing their share. To learn more about the leader’s perspective, please read this Dance Safari post, “Ballroom Dancing Basics: 10 Characteristics of a Good Leader“.

So we have a leader and a follower. Who goes first? The leader. Who goes second? The follower will be a split second behind. That’s why it’s called following.

What makes a good follower?  

A good follower doesn’t necessarily know tons of steps, but she pays attention to her partner’s directions. For this reason, she’s a pleasure to dance with. In addition, she has good posture, a firm frame, a strong core, and knowledge of the dance positions.

She holds herself up and doesn’t hang on her partner. The truth is, the best way to become a sought-after partner is to respect the leader. That means, don’t anticipate. Rather, wait for the leader to indicate the direction and then respond accordingly.

follow you
Good dance posture and a firm frame make partner dancing easier.

Here’s a cute blog post about one girl’s efforts to learn how to follow, “How I Learned to Swing Dance (Sort of) at Friday Flights“.

The best things about being a good follower…

  • Good dancers will want to dance with you.
  • You can dance with bad dancers and still have fun.
  • You don’t have any decisions to make as far as the steps being danced.
  • Floorcraft is how you maneuver safely and efficiently around the dance floor and is the responsibility of the leader.
  • You’ll never have to sit out a dance unless you want to!

What about practicing?

To begin with, if you want to practice being a good follower, you’ll need a leader.

As you practice with your partner, close your eyes. As a result, you’ll become more aware of your partner’s actions. Also, it prevents anticipation, which is a killer in partner dancing. Therefore, if you think you’re gonna cheat, wrap a bandanna around your eyes.

Another way to practice would be to face your partner with your hands extended at your chest level, palms facing out. Your practice partner will meet your hands as you both exert pressure towards each other with toned arms. Do this without letting your elbows go behind your sides. Next, move as a unit using directional movement forward, back, left, and right.

It’s really important to keep your steps a comfortable size. If you do, then even if you’re being led to do movements you’re unfamiliar with, you’ll be able to follow. To this end, just remember to follow the rhythm and keep your feet under your body.

If you’re not getting enough dances, it may be that you need to improve your ability to follow. As you can see, this is definitely one area where you don’t want to be the boss.

line dancing and ballroom dancing
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